Search form

About The Blogger

Dr. Dianna Lindsay's picture
After 43 years in my chosen profession, I remain excited, alive, and learning! From an active Twitter Account to blogging, from teaching Constitutional Law to Pre-AP English, from a national winner...
Back to Blog

Heralding: A Commitment to Collaboration

  • Conversation abounds in art~ military~ leadership~ business~ medicine~ and the list extends to sports~ recreation~ and houses of worship: collaboration is the buzz! The concept seems to be as old as man and used for millennia. Rarely~ however~ to a see a definition of terms. I too am guilty as charged! I toss around the term as if we all had a working understanding of the concept! After closely examining the award winning work of my collaborative students in order to answer a foundational question~ "Why are these kids so far ahead of the other teams?"~ I have concluded there are indeed a myriad of components to share!
  • 1. First~ the "leader" of the project must be seen as a learning partner offering the challenge~ coaching~ questioning~ and not delegating the authority but rather facilitating the process. This is messy~ time-consuming~ and hard for take-charge personalities like mine! Modeling the process instills the idea that the "real answer" is not already known by the leader and she is nicely making us do the work to which she is manipulating the answer. Where will the group go if it is lost in the process of solving the problem? How will resources be made available to them?
  • 2. Second~ there must be a shared vision of where the end is and the essential role played by each person in the group. Each person speaks clearly~ freely~ and fully about the project in terms of "who"~ "what"~ "where"~ "when"~ and "why". The "how" is the design dynamics of the group's process. How is the group refreshed in its understanding of the vision?
  • 3. Third~ the team needs a strong trust factor. The members know people can and will commit to the project~ use their talents and talk about their personal needs for success with the group members. Reasons that limit the work are articulated and solved. Talents and limitations must be discussed as feedback and provided at the beginning and throughout the process. This too has a skill set. Giving and receiving feedback is part of the process. Teaching this skill is an essential step requiring practice. How can the trust be given and communicated to the group?
  • 4. Forth~ the idea of time is as fundamental as breathing. The group will waste time until the work and end-points are embedded into the project. Getting started is slow but maintaining momentum as easier in a task with meaning! Meeting at the start~ reviewing the progress~ developing the freedom to act~ and get on the work are all skills that also requiring practicing. Discussing progress periodically is needed to assure the group's progress. This should be a questioning process not a directing process in my judgment. Who is the best person to take the temperature of the group?
  • 5. Fifth~ flexibility requires the maturity of listening and altering the direction or amending the needs of the project. This is far greater than cooperation. It means a true recognition of skills and talents as well as passions and limitations. This is intuitive in high performing teams but the sense of "fairness" frequently divides groups and pushes them to parcel work for equality. This equality idea can and will impede the project; sometimes~ tasks simply be equally divided. How does the group handle this reality?
  • 6. Sixth is the idea of roles and role assignment. I observe that high performing groups spend creative hours examining the tasks and roles emerge from talents and interests not teacher assignments. Leadership emerges~ tasks are agreed upon and work begins. The group must discuss its commitment to one another~ review the commitment periodically and celebrate in service to one another also. In my classroom~ we share coffee making~ snack provisions~ duplicating~ and clean-up based on the temperature of the tasks and everyone knows that the days vary by the needs of the work. What do you do when things don't work this smoothly-discuss why!
  • 7. Lastly~ failure or success are shared jointly! FAIL- (First Attempt In Learning) is about missing the key point or idea and analyzing how to correct that in the next round of attempts. Failure brings new ways of trying! It brings about new ways to solve an existing problem. It does not destroy the course~ class~ or group!